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Indian visitors in US spent a record $13.6 billion in 2016: US commerce dept

LiveMint logoLiveMint 11-08-2017 Lalit K Jha

Washington: Indian visitors spent a record $13.6 billion in the US last year, positioning India on the sixth spot among the top 10 international markets for the US in terms of visitor spending. As many as 1.17 million Indians visited the US in 2016. India is ranked 11th in terms of number of international visitors to the US in 2016. A total of 75.6 million international visitors came to the US in 2016 for business, medical, education and leisure purposes, who collectively spent $244.7 billion across the country.

Compared to 2015, visitor arrivals decreased by 2% and visitor spending decreased one per cent. It was the first decline in visitors since 2009, the US Department of Commerce said in its latest annual report. In 2016, travel and tourism was the largest services export for the US, comprising 33% of services exports and 11% of exports overall, it said. China ($33 billion), Mexico ($20.2 billion), India ($13.6 billion), and South Korea ($8.6 billion) all experienced an increase in both spending and visitations.

China was up 15% in the number of arrivals and 9% in spending; South Korea was up 12% in visitations and four per cent in spending; Mexico was up two per cent in visitations and three per cent in spending. India on the other hand increased 4% in arrivals and an impressive 14% in spending. The remaining top markets experienced declines.

“The US has enjoyed increased visitor spending from travellers originating out of India in every single year ever reported, save one (spending was absolutely flat in 2009),” the annual report said. In fact, in little more than a decade, travel and tourism exports to India have tripled, culminating into a record- setting $13.6 billion in 2016, said the Department of Commerce. “Travel and tourism exports account for 66% of all US services exports to India,” it said.

This propelled India to the sixth spot in terms of spending, pushing Brazil behind. It was not solely India’s strong performance that sent Brazil packing in 2016, pushing Brazil down in the rankings; it was more so the substantial (and somewhat unexpected) decline in total Brazilian spending in the US that pushed Brazil down to seventh place, markedly declining nearly 20% in 2016 to $11.0 billion. In fact, the number of visitors from Brazil who travelled to the US plummeted by nearly 24% to 1.7 million in 2016, the lowest level since 2011.

Brazilians dramatically reduced their outbound travel globally in 2016 (by as much as 15% in some reports), but not as sharply as they did to America. Arrivals from Brazil accounted for 2.2% of all international arrivals to the US, it said. While China is ranked fifth with 2.97 million visitors to the US, Chinese spent a whopping $33 billion to put it the number one country in terms of spending.

Canada, on top, which had 19.3 million visitors in 2016, experienced an eight per cent drop in its spending to $20.9 billion. It is ranked second after China in terms of spending. PTI

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